Afterlife thoughts: What happens when one dies?

Satyakam Ray

In Marvel’s cinematic universe, the Black Panther star, the late actor Chadwick Boseman, has a lot of influence. When T’challa (Boseman) lost his father during the Civil War movie, he told the Black Widow about his beliefs. According to T’challa, death is not the end in his culture. It’s merely a stepping-off point. You reach out with both hands, and Bast and Sekhmet lead you into the green veld where… You can run forever

The famous lines define the afterlife thought process of Wakanda culture (though imaginary). Similarly, in the real world, almost all religions, cultures, traditions, and races have many afterlife myths/stories deeply embedded in the minds of those who follow them. 

From the beginning of human civilization, humans have been intrigued about what will happen after death. The mystery surrounding life after death has given rise to many speculations, beliefs, and traditions. The existence of God or paranormal things has been attributed to men’s undying curiosity regarding the afterlife.

The quest for the same intensifies after many persons who went to the brink of death returned with profound experiences and spirituality and claimed to have seen Jesus, Lord Krishna, angels, or bright light. The phenomenon seems natural and universal, though few skeptics doubt and cast aspersion over the claims. The daunting task of finding the veracity of the claims is often enforced upon spiritual organizations like the Vatican. A proper scientific approach to ascertaining the afterlife experiences with appropriate evidence and peer-reviewed research is the correct way of coming to the crux of the matter.

The religious point of view:

The concept of reincarnation and rebirth is deeply attached to the Sanatan philosophy. According to Buddhism, there’s no such absolute end to life; it simply goes from one form to another when one person dies. According to Hinduism, the Karma of this life decides what will happen to that person in the next life. If one person misbehaves and is involved in egregious acts, that person’s reincarnation may not be human. Christianity involves a deeper allegiance from its followers to believe in the resurrection of Jesus. 

The Mayan beliefs about the afterlife are unique in many ways. The Mayans believed that gods governed their world and that offering human blood was crucial for appeasing the gods so that the culture would flourish for eternity. These led to many sacrifices of Mayan people on auspicious Mayan calendar days. The recent archeological excavations of some Mayan architecture drew attention to the gory side of the afterlife. The power of the dead brings the sustenance we need to survive on earth- the central belief system of the Mayan ways of life. Mexicans shared a similar ideology.

The Egyptians who built the mighty pyramids believed in the eternal influence of souls. They called the soul ka (the vital essence). To preserve the ka, Egyptians held the bodies through mummification. They arranged all the necessary items for their daily lives so they wouldn’t face a single problem in the afterlife when the dead would arise. The continuation of tradition beyond life is also evident in architecture. The terrific Egyptian ruler Ramesses II is seen offering the ka to his predecessor Ramesses so that he can live forever when any person remembers the name. 

Scientific Approach:

According to modern science, the soul, or the vital essence of who we are, doesn’t become dead or alienated after death. Many scientists claim that they have captured or seen a form of light going away from the body after a person’s death. In fact, after the early moments of death, brain activity continues. The claim needs serious scientific investigation as hoaxes resurface through social media and the internet. 

In a 2010 experiment in the US, a new android robot named BINA48 was developed to preserve the essence of one’s life soul. BINA48 (Breakthrough Intelligence via Neural Architecture 48) is a robot owned by Martine Rothblatt, who has made billions through pharmaceutical ventures. Roboticist David Hanson created the robot mimicking Martine’s wife, Bina Rothblatt, that has stored the memory and traits of the real Bina. The head-and-shoulder robotics express sixty-four different facial gestures without a complete body. It employs off-the-shelf software and customized artificial intelligence algorithms to retain information and enhance listening ability. 

Though the BINA48 robot is the answer by Silicon Valley to the afterlife mysteries, it will take a long before the prototype of cyber-conscious can give justice to the exact explanation of life beyond death. According to the makers, connecting supercomputers and advanced AI algorithms will need a lot of effort to create a replica of the soul or ka. 

Is the jury still out?

In the coming decades, the pursuit of the afterlife will continue through religion and science. As discoveries and new facts deepen the mystery, it will be a magnificent landmark in human history if we become able enough to know what exactly lies after the soul leaves the corpse. Till then, let the imagination let loose! Is T’challa’s thoughts about the afterlife correct after all? 

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